Options Techtonic with Mark Hurst: Playlist from August 13, 2018 Options

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Conversations with creators and thinkers who are charting the way forward in a tech-saturated society. Tech, community, video games, and whatever else is next.

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Options August 13, 2018: James Bridle, author of "New Dark Age"

Listen to this show: MP3 - 128K |  Pop‑up player! | Add or read comments

This week: James Bridle, author of New Dark Age: Technology and the End of the Future.

Pointers to James Bridle:

Jamesbridle.com, his website

@jamesbridle on Twitter

Video interview of James Bridle, produced by his publisher, Verso

Recent Tech News

The Information on School Websites Is Not as Safe as You Think (NYT, Aug 2): "Many school sites are hosting software from third-party companies whose primary business is buying and selling data for the detailed dossiers of personal information on finances, lifestyle and buying habits that advertisers prize. Those third parties may invite still other trackers onto the site, without the school’s knowledge or control. 'The price of getting information about your child’s school should not be losing your privacy to online ad brokers.'"

Google tracks your movements, like it or not (AP, today, Aug 13): "Even with Location History paused, some Google apps automatically store time-stamped location data without asking. For example, Google stores a snapshot of where you are when you merely open its Maps app... some searches that have nothing to do with location, like 'chocolate chip cookies,' or 'kids science kits,' pinpoint your precise latitude and longitude — accurate to the square foot — and save it to your Google account."

Jack Dorsey's Dangerous Defense of Alex Jones (The Atlantic, Aug 8): "What serves the public conversation best, [Twitter CEO] Dorsey argues, is for one media company to reject the idea that publishers are responsible for the quality of what appears on their platforms, to ignore the larger record of information people publish—and instead to rely on other publishers to uphold standards such as seeking the truth and reporting it, holding the powerful accountable for lies and corruption, and doing so in a way that serves the public good and minimizes harm."

• The business model of Big Tech: GROWTH AT ALL COSTS.

Tonight's outtro is from Cult Fantastic. Thanks to Cheyenne Hohman, director of WFMU's Free Music Archive, for the pointer.

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Artist Track Album Label Images Approx. start time
  James Bridle, author of "New Dark Age," describes our entanglement with digital tech, climate change, and the worst of capitalism.
Tomaš Dvořák  Game Boy Tune   Options Machinarium Soundtrack  No label 
  Mark's intro      
0:01:25 (MP3 | Pop‑up)
  Interview with James Bridle, author, "New Dark Age"      
0:14:37 (MP3 | Pop‑up)
  Your calls and comments 201-209-9368      
0:36:54 (MP3 | Pop‑up)
Cult Fantastic  Screens   Options I Love My Selfie  No label 
0:56:28 (MP3 | Pop‑up)

Listener comments!

Avatar 6:04pm geezerette:

Hello, Mark!
"What fresh hell is this?" (Dorothy Parker, I think...)
Avatar 6:05pm herb.nyc:

hi. it may be Tech News but it's also Tech Noose.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:10pm Bas NL:

Hi Mark & Techtonauts!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:11pm Linda Lee:

so awfully pathetic!! total surveillance isn't even based in an overarching ideology like, say, totalitarian fascism. it's just business. sheesh.
  6:11pm melinda:

Hi all
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:11pm queems:

hoo boy
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:12pm Bas NL:

Growth is Good! Muhahahaahaaa!
  6:12pm Warren from Australia:

Hello Techton trillionaires
Avatar 6:12pm herb.nyc:

ooh, mark said PENETRATION. yeah baby!
Avatar 6:12pm Jeff Moore:

Cancer and kudzu!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:13pm Linda Lee:

Avatar 6:13pm northguineahills:

Google can't track you to w/in a foot. If there are 8 GPS satellites w/in the constellation of your viewshed, then you might be able to get a location w/ a margin of error of 1.5m if you're lucky. Triangulation via cell towers is less accurate. (Geographic pendant is a geographic pendant).
Avatar 6:13pm herb.nyc:

does capitalism say "growth at all costs"?
  6:14pm Patty D:

Mark, do you think people like Alex Jones should be censored by big tech companies or does freedom of speech mean you have to accept the good, the bad, and the ugly?

I understand the difference here is a company is doing the censorship and not the government.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:14pm Linda Lee:

that's modern hypercapitalism, yep.
  6:15pm Chud:

@herb capitalism, religion, carbon-based-life, the universe itself...
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:16pm Linda Lee:

"in a corporatist system of govenrment, corporate censorship is state censorship.' ~ that's caitlyn johnstone. we need to forget there's a difference in the US, because there currently isn't.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:19pm Mark Hurst:

Hi Linda! Chud! Patty! Herb! ngh! WFMU's own Jeff! Queems! Bas! Melinda! Geezerette!
Avatar 6:19pm geezerette:

Shallow knowledge, shiny beads, Trojan horses.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:20pm Linda Lee:

organic forms of life are self limiting. that's sustainable. growth without limit isn't sustainable & so of course, it's also self-limiting. it's just that there's no allowance for that in practice.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:20pm Mark Hurst:

Patty, if I have time I'll try to answer your question on-air. I think there's a categorical difference when a "platform" isn't neutral at all but instead is designed to amplify toxic content.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:20pm Linda Lee:

even cancer will eventually kill the organism.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:20pm Linda Lee:

hey there Mark!
Avatar 6:22pm herb.nyc:

(2005 37cent American Scientist, John von Neumann - i have some of these stamps, brand new)
Avatar 6:23pm Snortley:

Any 91.1 listeners getting dodgy reception? Station seems to be fading in and out here in Brooklyn.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:24pm queems:

@snortley it's been a little fuzzy for me today
Avatar 6:25pm herb.nyc:

91.1fm reception has been fine in lower manhattan
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:30pm Linda Lee:

excellent interview
Avatar 6:31pm herb.nyc:

i see the "stop looking at your phone" image on the techtonic page - at last night's summerstage "greenwich village" show, singer john sebastian said, in middle of song, "hey everyone, put down yr cellphone...".
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:31pm Linda Lee:

this cannot be sustainable whatsoever.
  6:33pm Dean:

Apropos of ditching the cellphone: https://twitter.com/OriginalYoni/status/1027988511192834048
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:34pm chris:

climate change is not a threat to the planet. it is a threat to life on earth. the planet will be fine, given time. its important to keep that in mind. battling climate change is about the survival of life on earth.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:35pm Mark Hurst:

Good ones, Herb & Dean, thanks! @Linda, I agree
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:37pm Linda Lee:

continual utilization of the net isn't sustainable in terms of energy usage.. so then continual mass surveillance isn't sustainable either.
Avatar 6:37pm herb.nyc:

(gotta run, take care all. will catch up on archives!)
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:37pm Linda Lee:

we just refuse to stop killing ourselves off, don't we.
  6:38pm Dean:

Bridle is doing a great job of highlighting the costs of new technologies we often conveniently choose to ignore, thereby skewing our back-of-the-envelope cost-benefit analyses. But I disagree that we don't need more data...or at least the implication that we don't need more (or better) data processing. Ars Technica today reports on the computational limitations of climate change analysis:

"The simulations took up a year of NCAR supercomputer time, so they were also only able to look at one climate change scenario—the average of all 19 different climate models in a 'business-as-usual' emissions scenario. Ideally, it would also be good to know what the projections look like under additional climate scenarios."
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:38pm chris:

we do seem to be pretty good at it, LL. :(
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:38pm Bas NL:

Internet power usage is dwarfed by energy use in shipping, airplanes and industry.
  6:39pm Dean:

Climate story at Ars: https://arstechnica.com/science/2018/08/a-warmer-world-means-a-greater-risk-rain-lands-on-snow-triggering-floods/
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:39pm Linda Lee:

interconnected = entangled. note Mr Bridle' s term.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:39pm Linda Lee:

correct Bas!
Avatar 6:40pm geezerette:

this was predicted decades ago. Nevertheless, inaction is not an option.
  6:40pm Chud:

@Linda, I think all of the things I listed are self-limiting. I also believe that technology's rise is as inevitable as a hole being smoothed over with time. Every energy gradient ends up being exploited
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:41pm Linda Lee:

ah ok. got it
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:41pm Rich in Washington:

Dagnabit! I forgot to tune in until now!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:43pm Linda Lee:

of course Alex Jones will not ultimately be censored, because he's a very useful tool of controlled opposition.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:45pm Linda Lee:

if he were serious opposition to the status quo he'd be long gone or tempered under threat.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:45pm melinda:

@chris I think when people say the planet is threatened it's really shorthand for "the ecosystems which sustain us on this planet". Not technically accurate but less cumbersome and conveys the dire nature of our situation.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:46pm Linda Lee:

same with that other shit-head.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:46pm melinda:

@Linda good point.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:47pm Linda Lee:

we can assume this is so because of what's happening to voices of actual opposition.
Avatar 6:47pm Neckbard:

My awareness of Alex Jones I owe to Oscar nominee, Richard Linklater.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:49pm chris:

melinda, i've thought this for a while, and am a bit of a poo-head for semantics. so, i do agree with you. somehow bringing humanity into it means something more to me. maybe only rhetorically, i'll admit.
Avatar 6:49pm geezerette:

I'm too sad to comment further. We do what we can.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:49pm Linda Lee:

right right right right re sociopahtic corporate leadership.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:50pm Patty D:

Thanks for the response Mark. I think Twitter, FB, Google, etc. has the right and responsibility to censor people as they see fit. My only concern is the fact that they are the ones who get to decide what is and is not appropriate.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:51pm Bas NL:

I've met many hateful and opinionated people in real life.. why should internet be any better?
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:51pm Patty D:

Love the show by the way.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:51pm Linda Lee:

what will sustain & help us go forward, if anything can, is communication & community.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:52pm melinda:

@chris I get it. I'm never sure what the most effective language is, because we're trying to appeal to different minds.
Avatar 6:53pm northguineahills:

I believe Public Enemy has a song for that, as Chuck D said, "Shut it Down!"
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:53pm melinda:

@Patty I agree, it's their right but I don't trust them to do a good job of it. They need to be broken up.
  6:53pm Rando Jones:

Not to plug a different show but On The Media in their latest episode has a decent discussion about the free speech issues around Alex Jone with his lawyer in the law suit. In the lawsuit, the first amendment does apply because it's about the law. Mark is pretty much spot on with what he's saying about Twitter they only care about profit. To use the example of the Illinois Nazis from the Blues Brothers (which was based on a real case btw) Twitter allowing Alex Jones to spread his garbage would be like WGN allowing the Illinois Nazis to advertise their rally on their airwaves which is something that never would have happened back then.
  6:54pm Doug C:

Interesting line of thought. The Washington Post had an editorial on NPR hosting white supreme it’s
Prior to their March and handing them softball questions and a forum for their hateful views. Shouldn’t Facebook and twitter be held to the same standard.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:55pm melinda:

Rando thanks for the reference, I'll have to check that out.
  6:55pm RLU:

@chris: it also seems to leave open the possibility of colonizing other planets
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:55pm Rich in Washington:

I live near where one of the biggest alt/right douchenozzles in the Pacific NW lives and our only daily paper loves writing fawning pieces on him, taking his jesus talk at face value, etc.
Avatar 6:56pm geezerette:

thanks for doing this, Mark.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:56pm melinda:

Yay, enjoying the crossover of different shows/DJs.
Avatar 6:56pm Jeff Moore:

On The Media is one of the essential weekly listens. Has been for years.
Avatar 6:56pm northguineahills:

not only nutrient intake, but skeletal and muscular structural issues beyond 10ft fr humans as well as the size one's lungs and surface area of one's alveoli w/ today's current O2 content would make it nearly impossible...
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:56pm Linda Lee:

have a good break, Mark. we'll miss you!
  6:56pm Doug C:

That was supremecists but spellcheck...
Avatar 6:56pm northguineahills:

salud, Mark!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:56pm chris:

thanks, Mark! and thanks, wonderful people for comments!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:57pm Bas NL:

Thanks Mark & have a nice break!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:57pm queems:

thanks mark!
Avatar 6:58pm Jeff Moore:

Thanks, Mark – pray have a good and re-energizing time away.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 7:00pm Mark Hurst:

Thanks, everyone! I'll miss you. See you in 3 weeks. Have a good end-of-summer!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 7:00pm listener 126464:

Thanks Mark!
  7:01pm J:

Kill your selfie
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